Campus News

UK Debate Earns Automatic Bid to 2021 National Debate Tournament

The Kentucky Intercollegiate Debate team
The Kentucky Intercollegiate Debate team.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Feb. 24, 2021) — The National Debate Tournament Committee has ranked the University of Kentucky team of David Griffith (freshman) and Jordan Di (freshman) as one of the top 16 teams in the nation. This ranking means the duo will receive a “first round bid” or automatic invitation to the 2021 National Debate Tournament (NDT).

The Kentucky Intercollegiate Debate team, housed in the College of Communication and Information at UK, will join a list of historically strong programs including debate powerhouses such as Harvard University, Dartmouth College, Northwestern University, Emory University, Wake Forest University, the University of Southern California and the University of California, Berkeley at the upcoming NDT.

2021 marks the seventh consecutive year that UK Debate has received at least one first round bid. Since the first-round bid process began in 1973, only seven all freshman teams have earned automatic bid honors. It is not, however, the first time UK has accomplished the feat, as the team of Dan Bannister and Anthony Trufanov earned this honor in 2016 and finished the season as the 13th ranked team in the country.

The team, led by Director of Debate Dave Arnett, now turns its focus to the postseason, starting with the American Debate Association Championship in early March.

“We have a very young squad and are facing many of the same challenges as everyone else this year. Our primary goals were sticking together, growing as a team and focusing on the fundamentals, and I feel really good about what we achieved in those areas. That we also have some impressive competitive accomplishments to show for it really speaks to the resilience of these students and the rest of the coaching staff,” Arnett said.

The 75th National Debate Tournament will take place virtually March 25-31, 2021.

As the state’s flagship, land-grant institution, the University of Kentucky exists to advance the Commonwealth. We do that by preparing the next generation of leaders — placing students at the heart of everything we do — and transforming the lives of Kentuckians through education, research and creative work, service and health care. We pride ourselves on being a catalyst for breakthroughs and a force for healing, a place where ingenuity unfolds. It's all made possible by our people — visionaries, disruptors and pioneers — who make up 200 academic programs, a $476.5 million research and development enterprise and a world-class medical center, all on one campus.   

In 2022, UK was ranked by Forbes as one of the “Best Employers for New Grads” and named a “Diversity Champion” by INSIGHT into Diversity, a testament to our commitment to advance Kentucky and create a community of belonging for everyone. While our mission looks different in many ways than it did in 1865, the vision of service to our Commonwealth and the world remains the same. We are the University for Kentucky.